Marc Lallanilla, Life's Little Mysteries Assistant Editor
Date: 07 May 2013 Time: 11:07 AM ET
A flock of vultures devoured the body of a woman just minutes after she fell to her death while hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains in France.
The woman, 52, had been hiking with two friends when she fell about 1,000 feet (300 meters) down the side of a steep mountain. Police believed she died from injuries sustained during the fall, the Daily Mail reports.
Vultures are known to be able to sniff out the gaseous chemicals emanating from a dead body more than a mile away.
"When we first went out in the helicopter looking for the body, we saw numerous vultures, without realizing what they were doing," said Maj. Didier Pericou, of the local police, as quoted in the Daily Mail.
But by the time the police reached the body, there was little left to recover.
"There were only bones, clothes and shoes left on the ground," Pericou said. "They took 40 to 50 minutes to eat the body."
The Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) that consumed the body have been under considerable stress, as their primary source of food — the carcasses of cattle or other livestock — are no longer available throughout much of Europe.